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New Renault Rafale flagship coupe-SUV gets 296bhp PHEV option

The Renault Rafale is a top-of-the-range coupe SUV with hybrid-power only

  • All-new Renault coupe-SUV model
  • 197bhp hybrid and 296bhp PHEV powertrains
  • On sale in the UK now from £38,195

The all-new Renault Rafale has hit the UK market, taking the top spot in the French brand’s model hierarchy. The coupe-SUV made its global debut at last year’s Paris Air Show, but only now have UK prices been confirmed: entry-level versions of the Rafale will start from £38,195, rising to nearly £45,000 for top-spec models.

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The Rafale sits above the Austral SUV in the Renault lineup, aiming to bring a sportier look and driving experience to the traditional family SUV. Currently, it’s only available to order with the hybrid E-Tech engine offered elsewhere in Renault’s lineup. However, a 296bhp plug-in hybrid model has been confirmed, with four-wheel drive and a suitably nippy 0-62mph time.

What does the Renault Rafale look like?

The Rafale is 4,710mm long, making it a significant 200mm longer than Renault’s next-largest car, the Austral SUV, but on par with rivals such as the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-60. Unlike those cars, the Rafale takes on a coupe-esque profile, with a sloping roofline similar to the smaller Renault Arkana.

The Rafale offers plenty of bold, premium design elements worthy of a range-topper. That should come as no surprise as Renault’s design director, Gilles Vidal, was also behind the styling of the Peugeot 508 saloon – a car that has played an important role in redefining Peugeot as a more upmarket brand. 

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At the front, the Rafale gets Renault’s latest light signature that first appeared on the Renault Clio, and has more recently been applied to the Renault Symbioz SUV. The brand’s newly-redesigned diamond logo sits within a grille made up of a scale-like diamond pattern, while on either side, you get the same arrowhead-shaped daytime running lights that Renault uses across all of its new models.

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Step around to the rear and you’ll find the sloping roofline that sets the Rafale apart from traditional, boxy SUVs. A sharp bodyline stretches from above the 20-inch wheels to the angular rear lights, which sit beneath a small ducktail spoiler. Customers will be able to choose from five paint colours, including two UV-resistant matte finishes.

What about the Renault Rafale’s interior?

The interior is similar to that found in the Austral and benefits from plenty of high-quality materials that should help cement the Rafale’s premium image. The driver gets a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, as well as a central 12-inch infotainment touchscreen running Android Automotive as its operating system – not to be confused with the smartphone mirroring software Android Auto, which the Rafale comes with as standard along with Apple CarPlay.

The infotainment system features downloadable apps and can be controlled via Google Assistant voice commands. You can even use your voice to operate the optional Solarbay panoramic sunroof, which can electronically transition from opaque to transparent.

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The Rafale is offered in three trim levels – Techno, Techno Esprit Alpine and Iconic Esprit Alpine – but all models come with wireless phone charging, four USB-C ports, a reversing camera, and dual-zone climate control. Esprit Alpine models get a splash of blue for the perforated Alcantara seats, along with more interior equipment.

What engines are available for the Renault Rafale?

The Renault Rafale comes with a choice of two engines, starting with the 197bhp E-Tech hybrid system. This uses a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine combined with two electric motors. Acceleration is respectable for a car of this size – 0-62mph is dispatched in 8.9 seconds – but fuel economy is where this engine really shines. Renault claims efficiency figures of up to 60.1mpg are achievable, while CO2 emissions stand at 105g/km.

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The second engine option adds a healthy dose of performance to the coupe-SUV. The E-Tech 4x4 model uses the same 1.2-litre engine, but combined with a plug-in hybrid system and an additional 134bhp electric motor to power the rear wheels. The result is four-wheel drive and a total system output of 296bhp, launching the Rafale from 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds – the same as a Mk8 Volkswagen Golf GTI. The PHEV system uses a 22kWh battery that delivers an electric driving range of up to 62 miles, helping to boost efficiency figures to over 400mpg if you keep the battery topped up.

Top of the Rafale range is the E-Tech 4x4 in Atelier Alpine trim. This model gets some extra tech to make the most of the powerful plug-in hybrid system, including an active suspension system with a windscreen-mounted camera that scans the road ahead for bumps. You also get a choice of three driving modes for the four-wheel drive system – Comfort, Dynamic and Sport – selectable through the infotainment screen.

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Other than the entry-level Rafale Techno, all models come with Renault’s 4CONTROL four-wheel steering system that can adjust the angle of the rear wheels to improve both low-speed agility and high-speed stability.

How much does the Renault Rafale cost and when can I buy one?

Prices start at £38,195 for the Rafale in Techno trim with the E-Tech hybrid engine. For the four-wheel steering system and other features, such as LED matrix headlights, an automatic-opening tailgate, heated seats and a head-up display, buyers will have to upgrade to the £42,195 Rafale Techno Esprit Alpine.

Top of the E-Tech hybrid range is the £44,695 Rafale Iconic Esprit Alpine, which adds niceties such as the Solarbay sunroof, a Harman Kardon sound system and a 360-degree parking camera.

UK customers can place an order for the Rafale with the E-Tech hybrid powertrain now, while the plug-in hybrid will be available from autumn 2024. Pricing for that model will be revealed in June.

What does it mean for car buyers?

The Rafale will go up against a growing market of coupe-SUVs mostly made up of more traditionally upmarket rivals such as the Audi Q5 Sportback, BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. It will also be competing against the all-electric Skoda Enyaq Coupe, although there are currently no plans to offer an electric version of the Rafale.

If you want to hear about one of Renault’s latest all-electric offerings, read our review of the Renault Megane E-Tech

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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